Gay Men's Health Crisis on Needle Exchange Funding Ban
BY Neal Broverman
December 25 2011 1:05 PM ET
Congress removed funding for syringe exchange programs in the budget they passed last week and the Gay Men's Health Crisis say that was a big mistake.
Federal funding for needle exchanges, which studies show reduce HIV transmissions, was removed during the tenure of George W. Bush; it returned when Barack Obama took office. But the Republican-controlled House has worked repeatedly to remove the funding since then and they were successful last week.
"New York City experienced a 78% decline in reported HIV infections among intravenous drug users since syringe exchange became available (from 1990 to 2002) - supported by state and local funds," according to a press release from the New York-based GMHC.
GMHC CEO Marjorie Hill calls Congress's ban on federal funding extremely shortsighted.
"How do you get to zero new infections when you let ideology stand in the way of using existing proven tools to reduce the rate of HIV infection," Hill said in the release. "It is hypocritical that Congress would allow this retrograde policy to be put back into place. It is especially reprehensible that this step was taken during the 30th year of the epidemic when, as stated by the federal government, the tools exist to end the spread of HIV. This action, along with the decision to wastefully spend taxpayer dollars on disproven abstinence-only education demonstrates a clear lack of commitment by Congress to seriously confront HIV."
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